Foremost digital payment firm, Interswitch Limited, has partnered with Slum2School Africa, a volunteer-driven community development organization to build a STEM and Innovation Lab at the Anglican Primary School, Makoko in Lagos state.
The initiative, which was born out of Interswitch’s goal to grow the standard of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in Africa, was warmly received by staff and pupils of the school as well as residents of the community and surrounding neighbourhoods.
Speaking at the commissioning of the STEM and Innovation Lab, on Thursday, the CEO/GMD, Interswitch Group, Mitchell Elegbe said “we are faced with a reality that requires us to take deliberate efforts to improve STEM education in Africa, if we are to solve the challenges that we face as a society.
“The development and transformation of any society today is largely dependent on a relevant skilled workforce and innovation, two factors that require strong STEM knowledge and application”.
“STEM help students learn things like critical thinking and problem solving, so they can be the next generation of leaders and innovators.
“And at Interswitch, we want everyone to have that opportunity. That is why we are rolling out initiatives at different levels in the country that support and promote STEM education in Africa, from the InterswitchSPAK national science competition, to working with Slum2School to build STEM and Innovation labs across Africa, that will ignite, increase, and reward interest in STEM education,” Mr. Elegbe added.
The founder of Slum2School Africa, Otto Orondaam, thanked Interswitch for trusting and partnering with Slum2School to deliver a standard facility in a community that has so much to offer in terms of nurturing budding talents.
He also lauded the Lagos State Education Board for creating an enabling environment for partnerships like this to be fostered.
“Working with thousands of children from this community over the past 6 years, we have seen some of the brightest minds you could imagine and we know that the facility will enhance learning for every child who engages with it, not just from Makoko but across Lagos state.
“Interswitch and Slum2School are on the right track to ensuring access to updated and relevant knowledge is provided for every child; we believe that this will be the first of many more STEM and Innovation Labs for children living in underdeveloped communities across Africa,” Orondaam said.
He further added that Slum2School has provided scholarships and various learning centers to over 1,000 children from the Makoko community, noting that it is committed to providing access to quality education and psycho-social support for disadvantaged children in other slums and remote communities across Africa.
During an interactive session with the stakeholders’ at the event, the students from various Secondary Schools around Makoko and Lagos mainland who are the beneficiaries of Slum2School Scholarship program, lauded Interswitch and Slum2School for building the facility in their community.
An SS1 student at Birrel Senior High School, Miss Deborah Honsugan, said: “this is beyond an educational facility for us; it is also a physical symbol of hope to us that we can dream big, and now we have an opportunity to work on our dreams, and maybe one day we too can give back as you have given to us.”
Also speaking at the event, a director of Slum2School Africa, Mr. Emrys Ijaodola said the choice of Makoko was based on the community’s needs and kids’ talents identified in the area.
He said there are talents everywhere, adding that every child irrespective of their socio-economic class should have access to qualitative education and have opportunities to develop their talents and achieve their dreams.
The ‘Slum2School STEM and innovation lab’, powered by Interswitch, seeks to build skills and talents base around STEM.